Chris Kunitz practiced on Monday afternoon at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex and head coach Mike Sullivan said he will be a game-time decision for Tuesday night against Ottawa.
“I felt pretty good,” Kunitz said. “I haven’t skated for a little more than a week so I think that is tough in itself but hopefully the body responds well. I’ll see more tomorrow morning how I feel, how I react.”
Kunitz sustained an undisclosed injury late in the third period of Pittsburgh’s 4-3 win over Philadelphia on Jan. 21 when he fell near the Flyers bench.
After missing practice the following day, Kunitz was supposed to play against Vancouver on Jan. 23. And while he did take warmups, Kunitz ended up being a late scratch and has been out ever since.
“I thought I was going to be all right. Then I went out and I was really limited in doing certain things,” Kunitz said. “I didn’t think that I was putting my team in a very good situation if I can only go to 50 percent or do certain things and I’m questioning myself out there. You have to be professional enough to know that you don’t want to cause any more injury but you always want to be out there to help your teammates anytime you can.”
Kunitz said they will determine his status for Tuesday’s game after the morning skate.
“I think every day that has gone by I’ve felt better and better doing more and more,” he said. “Today is the first time being on the ice and doing the motions of shooting, getting the legs going one way and body going the other. A whole bunch of twisting and things like that.
"So I think just tomorrow will tell. They’re leaving it open to see how it goes in the morning and figure it out after the skate tomorrow.”
The lengthy All-Star break was certainly helpful for Kunitz in terms of getting a chance to rest and recover while not missing even more games.
“Mine was just rehab,” he said. “Just doing certain things while relaxing with the family. Limiting yourself, making sure you weren’t hurting yourself in any way and try to prepare best to come back after the break and start playing games.”
POST ALL-STAR BREAK INJURY UPDATES FROM COACH SULLIVAN… - Evgeni Malkin was given a maintenance day and Kris Letang left the ice early after partaking in the NHL All-Star festivities in Nashville the past few days. “They had a fairly lengthy weekend, so to give them a day off I think is important to re-energize them." - On winger Beau Bennett, who was injured on Jan. 23 vs. Vancouver, his first game back after missing 17 with an upper-body injury: “He is continuing rehab. He is longer-term. Just an upper-body injury as we get more details and he gets closer we’ll start to let you know.” - On defenseman David Warsofsky, who has missed the last 4 games with a concussion suffered Jan. 17 vs. Carolina: “He skated this morning so I think he took the next step, which is great from our standpoint and his standpoint. That certainly is progress for him. We’ll see how that goes for him tomorrow.” - On forward Nick Bonino, who has missed the last 6 games with a hand injury suffered Jan. 12 at Carolina: “Bonino is status quo.”
ALL-STAR BREAK ACTIVITIES We checked in with a couple of guys about what they did over break…
CROSBY: “Some guys went south, but I just kind of took it easy. You don't typically get five days, so I just tried to stay off the ice and get ready to go.” FLEURY: “Drove the kids around. Napped with them. It was good to spend time with family.” MAATTA: “I just took it easy. I had a friend over here and so I spent time with him. Honestly, it was a good break. I needed a little time. I think everybody needed time from hockey. I think everybody feels recharged right now.” RUST: “I actually went home (to Michigan) for a couple of days with my family. There are a lot of guys on this team that have families and kids with school, so a lot of those guys stayed in town to relax with their families. That is obviously nice for them and it was really nice for me that I could go home and spend four or five days at home.”
Written by Michelle Crechiolo, CJ Harvey and Ashley Vesci